"We try to marry them young!"
Location: Ha-rav Yisrael Abu Khatsera Street, Bnei Brak
Residence: Bnei Brak
The encounter: I was interviewing Eliyahu, the vegetable seller, when Moshe stopped by to ask if there were any apartments for rent in the neighborhood. I jokingly suggested that I interview him as well, expecting to be turned down. But when I left the vegetable stall, I met Moshe again, and he did indeed agree to an interview, as long as I wouldn’t publish a photo of his face. He said he’d get in trouble with his yeshiva if they’d find out he had talked to me.
What are you doing here right now?
I’m looking for an apartment for my daughter. She’s getting married in three months. The groom is from Jerusalem. It’s the responsibility of the bride’s father to find housing for the couple.
What is your occupation?
In the mornings, I study Torah. In the afternoons, I teach at a yeshiva. I teach Torah to fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds. I’m actually an employee of the Ministry of Education.
How do you describe your religious or national identity?
I am a haredi [ultra-orthodox] Jew who lives in the land of Israel.
Can you tell me a bit about your family?
I have ten children: three girls, five boys, and then again two girls. My youngest is two months; the oldest is twenty. My oldest daughter is already married and lives in Ashdod. The one who’s getting married now is nineteen. She has a twin sister for whom – with the help of the Lord – we hope to find a good husband as well. We try to marry them young!
Where is your family from?
My father was born in Israel, but his parents came from Germany. They moved to Israel just before the Holocaust. The rest of their family stayed behind in Germany and perished. My father’s parents were ultra-orthodox. When they arrived in Israel, they went straight to Bnei Brak. They were disciples of the Rav HaChazon Ish, the most famous Haredi rabbi in Israel at that time. They were very close to him and lived their lives according to his instructions.
My mom was born in Romania. She came to Israel with her parents when she was three. Her father was married before the Holocaust and had three children, but his whole family was killed. The Germans hung my grandfather by his arms from a tree and left him to die, but he miraculously survived. He was very religious. Maybe that gave him strength. He remarried immediately after the war, and my mom was the firstborn in his new family.
What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
I wish for peace between the different segments of the Nation of Israel. I wish we could live together in unity and all love each other. Now, there are evil forces that separate us.
When the Messiah comes we’ll have real peace. We will live without worries and know that nobody will hurt us anymore and the Lord, Bless Him, will rule the world from above.
Until then, the Halacha says that it’s in Esau’s nature to hate Jacob. That’s just the way it is. Everybody hates the People of Israel. We should try not to fight or argue with the gentiles. The Halacha tells us not to provoke the other nations. If they want something, we should just give it, because we should avoid spilling any Jewish blood. For the time being, we’re in exile, and we’ll be the underdog until the Messiah, Blessed Be He, will come and redeem us.